“Not tonight, dear. I have a headache.”
Many people assume that the person using that cliché is always a woman. Many people would be wrong.
Men can also have that ‘headache,’ more often than people realize.
“Many, many men—about 1 in 5—have such low sexual desire they’d rather do almost anything else than have sex,” writes Irwin Goldstein, M.D., for WebMD.
Yet men can find a low libido hard to discuss. A concerned partner can help by providing understanding, patience, and useful information.
Many, many men—about 1 in 5—have such low sexual desire they’d rather do almost anything else than have sex.
Is Low Sex Drive Always a Problem?
A man’s libido generally rises and falls throughout his lifetime, and his low libido could be a natural stage. “There will always be periods in your relationship when you have a higher or lower sex drive than your partner,” says sex therapist Kat Van Kirk for Shape magazine. “It’s important to not catastrophize the situation.”
Still, there are many reasons why men can have prolonged periods of low libido. They can be biological, physical, psychological, or social.
Here’s what you should know about each.
Biological Causes of Low Sex Drive
Partnered men who care for children tend to have lower testosterone levels than non-partnered fathers or men with no children. This was the surprising conclusion of a study that found that human male testosterone levels adapt from the high levels needed to attract females earlier in life, to lower levels that are more appropriate for mating and raising children.
After the age of 30, men’s testosterone levels decline at about one percent per year. After 30, it may take longer to achieve an erection, and they may not be as firm.
Possible cures for biological causes: Patience and understanding are the best ways to deal with the effects of Mother Nature on a man’s libido. In some cases, counseling is a good idea to help a man through biological difficulties.
Physical Causes of Low Sex Drive
Again, this could be a natural effect of aging. Still, many older men remain interested in sex throughout their lives, so it’s wise to consider other reasons why a man could have low T. Lowered sex drive and problems with erections are both signs and symptoms of possible testosterone deficiency.
Other Hormone Deficiencies
Other hormones can also contribute to low libido. They include serotonin, dopamine, prolactin, and the stress hormone cortisol.
Many medications can lower sexual desire. They include certain antidepressants, heart medications, statins, chemotherapy drugs, and opioids.
Possible cures for physical causes: For low T, testosterone therapy may be an option. For this and other physical and medication causes, seeing a primary provider is the first step. Often, treating the underlying medical condition may help restore a man’s healthy sex drive.
Psychological Causes of Low Sex Drive
A study of sexual satisfaction found that internal daily stress can cause low libido. External daily stress and stress from a critical life event can have the same effect but less so.
Other mental illnesses—particularly PTSD—can also cause loss of desire. Again, the medications to treat these illnesses can also cause low sex drive.
Impotence or Erectile Dysfunction
The causes of impotence or erectile dysfunction can be psychological or physical or a combination of both. Men with sexual dysfunction often have performance anxiety that causes low libido.
Like women, men can have self-esteem issues related to body image. Low confidence or being unhappy with one’s appearance can lead to ED and sex avoidance.
Possible cures for psychological causes: For psychological causes, counseling or psychiatric care is the best course. ED medication can help, or he may need other medicines adjusted. Sex therapy may be an option for some couples.
Social/Lifestyle Causes of Low Libido
Too much or too little exercise can cause low libido. Endurance training, in particular, can cause a lack of interest in sex.
Significant life changes can cause a temporary lack of libido in men. Children, work or family obligations, or relationship changes can all have an impact.
A man’s body creates most of its daily testosterone during sleep. One study showed that after one week of only five hours of sleep a night, testosterone production in young, healthy men decreased by 10 to 15 percent.
Problems within a relationship can cause sex drive issues. These can include conflict, lack of trust, and poor communication. Different sexual preferences can also contribute to low libido.
Drugs and Alcohol
Alcohol abuse can have a significant effect on libido, and addiction can cause low sex drive even years after recovery. Pain medications can also be a culprit. One study revealed that 74 percent of men taking long-acting opioids and 34 percent on short-acting opioids had low testosterone.
In at least one study, smoking has been associated with ED, which can then affect libido.
The only way to help prevent low libido is to keep yourself healthy physically and mentally.
Possible cures for lifestyle causes: Making changes where possible and relationship or addiction counseling are the best ways to deal with these issues. If he smokes, he should quit. Stress management can also be helpful.
Overall, prevention is always the best cure. According to Edward Stoner, M.D. of CentraState Healthcare, “The only way to help prevent low libido is to keep yourself healthy physically and mentally.”
Unfortunately, there is no magic pill to increase libido. In most cases, treatment for a low sex drive is to treat the underlying cause with medical attention, medication, lifestyle changes, or counseling. Concerned partners should understand that low libido can be embarrassing for a husband to admit. Gentle encouragement may be just what he needs so that he can regain good sexual health and both partners can embrace life fully again.
Paula Clark worked in the healthcare industry for 17 years before becoming a full-time freelance health and medical writer. Her clients appreciate her ability to convey complex information in terms laypeople can understand. Paula prides herself on the depth and accuracy of her research. Her goal is to add authority to your site in words that will delight both Google and your readers.